Online identification of conflict related environmental damage

Online identification of conflict related environmental damage

In this blog, Wim Zwinenburg (PAX) and Eliot Higgins (Bellingcat) discuss the open source intelligence tools that they used to recover data on environmental damage during the ongoing conflict in Syria for PAX’s recently published report Amidst the Debris. With the conflict in Syria soon to enter its fifth year, large parts of the country have been laid to waste by intense fighting, bombardment and shelling. Understandably, most of the focus has been on the fighting and the direct victims of armed violence, with rather less on other impacts and […]

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New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

The ongoing conflict in Syria is likely to have a disastrous impact on the environment and public health, according to a new study published by PAX. Four years of fighting has left cities in rubble and caused widespread damage to industrial sites, critical infrastructure and the oil industry. Pollution from these forms of damage is likely to result in acute and chronic risks to civilians and will have a long-term impact on the environment that they depend on. “With the additional attacks by Russia in or near Aleppo, which has […]

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Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

The environmental costs of the ongoing Ukraine conflict are still to be fully quantified but an EU-UN-World Bank needs assessment has called for US$30m to fund urgent environmental recovery over the next two years. With UNEP still unable to assess or begin restoring the damage on the ground due to insecurity, this sum, which already far exceeds that for UXO management is only likely to grow. Shortly after Zoi Environment Network and the TRWP published a first look at the environmental damage from the Ukraine conflict, the EU, UN and […]

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Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

The conflict in Yemen is likely to have produced a range of TRW threats for the civilian population but in common with other conflicts, data on environmental risks has been largely absent from the discourse or has been subject to media distortion. Andy Garrity considers whether the approaches used to document the use of cluster munitions during the fighting could help inform citizen and activist data collection on conflict pollution. The Houthi militia uprising in Yemen in 2014 saw the internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansu Hadi flee to neighbouring […]

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Iraq’s continuing struggle with conflict pollution

Iraq’s continuing struggle with conflict pollution

While Iraq is still recovering from the environmental impact of both Gulf wars, it now faces new environmental problems caused by the current conflict against the Islamic State. Since the uprising began in June 2014, fierce battles have taken place in and around cities and industrial areas, affecting the already precarious environmental situation. Wim Zwijnenburg considers the risks and response. Heavy fighting in and around the Baiji oil refinery, and attacks on other industrial installation have led to the release of a range of hazardous substances into the environment, affecting soil and […]

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Rebuilding Gaza and the need to assess TRW risks

Rebuilding Gaza and the need to assess TRW risks

The people of Gaza are facing the colossal task of rebuilding homes, roads and schools following the hostilities between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) last summer. Disagreements over border access and the importation of construction equipment and materials have delayed the removal of rubble and rebuilding. As a result, environmental risks to civilian health linger in Gaza despite calls for greater urgency and co-operation between The Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations. The IDF’s Operation Protective Edge resulted in the destruction of 61,800 homes along with the […]

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TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

The Australian Defence Force has a comprehensive management plan for TRW sites and practices and the Department of Defence recognises its responsibility to remediate sites contaminated by its military activities. Andy Garrity examines their remediation schemes and considers principles and practices relevant to post-conflict TRW management. The Australian Department of Defence (ADoD) operate a large scale Environmental Remediation Programme (ERP) to tackle the environmental legacy of operations that has been amassed during the last 70 years, both domestically and overseas. The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ERP was initiated in 2003, […]

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State practice in the observance of environmental norms in implementing disarmament and arms control regimes

State practice in the observance of environmental norms in implementing disarmament and arms control regimes

Through reports submitted to the UN, Laurence Menhinick reviews state practice on the disposal and destruction of military materials and considers how well they reflect established environmental norms and the extent to which the environmental and health risks from military materials are recognised. The UN General Assembly resolution ‘Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control’ was first introduced by Colombia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1995. Originally inspired by two conventions that were already in force –the chemical and […]

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ISAF’s environmental legacy in Afghanistan requires greater scrutiny

ISAF’s environmental legacy in Afghanistan requires greater scrutiny

Since 2001, Afghanistan has seen intensive military activities from a number of countries that have contributed to the ISAF stabilisation force. With the drawdown of ISAF forces and a number of base closures under way, Aneaka Kellay investigates the toxic remnants of ISAF’s operations and who is currently liable for the clean-up. Introduction ISAF has been deployed in Afghanistan since 2001. In August 2003, NATO assumed command of the operation and its mandate has been repeatedly extended by the UN Security Council. During the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO agreed to […]

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Conflict rubble: a ubiquitous and under-studied toxic remnant of war

Conflict rubble: a ubiquitous and under-studied toxic remnant of war

Andy Garrity examines the potential health impacts associated with exposure to pulverised building materials from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The health and environmental risks and management of conflict rubble have been raised in several UNEP post-conflict assessments but little data on its post-conflict health impact is available. The use of explosive force in urban areas poses a number of immediate and obvious risks to civilians. Increasing scrutiny is now being focused on the potential health risks from the toxic constituents of munitions but less well understood […]

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